An inmate is suing the Washington County Sheriff for allegedly placing him in solitary confinement without following proper protocol.
Rafael Mora-Contreras, 37, says in a case filed Wednesday against Sheriff Matt Frohnhert that he was placed in solitary confinement without explanation or a chance to appeal after being transferred to the Washington County Jail awaiting a retrial.
Mora-Contreras was convicted in 2003 in the murder of 19-year-old Gonzalo Pizano Guzman, who had been planning to marry Mora-Contreras's sister. But a Marion county judge granted him post-conviction relief in November, saying the defendant had inadequate counsel during the first trial. (Mora-Contreras had been improperly restrained with a stun belt in court and had been tried with his co-defendant, Joseph David Noble, instead of having a separate trial.)
His case, filed in Washington County Circuit Court by attorneys Juan Chavez and Crystal Maloney, says Washington county deputies failed to inform Mora-Contreras of the reason he was placed in solitary confinement. He says he was not given a chance to appeal being placed in administrative segregation, despite the inmate handbook stating that detainees have the right to appeal such segregation.
The filing alleges that placing the man in solitary confinement with no recourse for appeal is cruel and unusual punishment.
Mora-Contreras also sued the Oregon Department of Corrections, alleging that the agency wrongfully used solitary confinement to punish inmates, especially people of color. His complaint says he suffered from hallucinations, weight loss, anxiety and severe distress while imprisoned alone.